Race to #1: Carolina Panthers


We have completed 6 weeks in the NFL season and while things on the top are a little uncertain we have some teams clearly in the running for the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  First I will look their chances to land the #1 overall pick, then I will talk about what they might do with that pick, after that I will talk about the state of each franchise.  Look for this series of articles to continue as we move closer to naming the winner (loser) of the #1 overall pick!  Be sure to check out our team needs page!

Chances for the #1 Pick: HIGH

  • The Carolina Panthers are one of two teams that have only 1 win and sit tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the chance at the #2 overall pick.  However, I don’t think they will be in this position for long because the Cowboys have too much talent to not win a few more games this season.  I also feel they have a good shot at moving up to the #1 spot because if you have watched the Bills lately you could argue they will get a win very soon.  Looking down the Panthers schedule they have only two games that I feel they have a shot at winning and they are the games vs. Seattle and Arizona.  Even if the Panthers win both of those games a 3 win team has a good shot to land the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

How will the Panthers use the #1 overall pick?

  • If the Panthers are able to land the #1 pick it would be very interesting to see the direction they choose.  This team has a lot of different needs on both sides of the ball so it will be a delicate balance of team need and player value.  I believe that the top needs of this team are as follows: defensive end, wide receiver, and quarterback.  Looking at our Big Board the top players at those positions are Da’Quan Bowers, AJ Green, and Andrew Luck all of which would be worthy of the top pick. Da’Quan Bowers might have a hard time getting himself in the top pick discussion but he has that type of ability.  So what direction does this team go?  To answer that question you first have to decide how comfortable you feel about Jimmy Clausen being your quarterback of the future.  You are going to find it hard to find anyone that feels Jimmy Clausen has a brighter future then Andrew Luck and that puts Carolina in a dilemma.  However, in this quarterback driven league you have to put the past behind you and go in the direction that is best for your NFL team.  I feel and I think the Panthers will agree that passing on a quarterback like Andrew Luck is not an option.  Keep in mind that Luck is an underclassman and if he chooses not to declare then it would solve this problem for the Panthers.

State of the Franchise

  • This team is in a tough spot and I think the uncertainty in the front office is going to set this team back at least 1 year.  If the Panthers wanted to go into rebuilding mode they should have either extended John Fox last year or made the change.  Now if they make a coaching change the new regime will have to make decisions about previously drafted players including Jimmy Clausen.  It’s a known fact that coaches and front office people have different opinions on quarterbacks so a coaching change could see an early end to the reign of Clausen as the Panthers future quarterback.  For this team to successfully move forward they need to look no further than teams like the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, two terrible teams that have put together a good blueprint on how to get it turned around.  There turn around started with the selection of a “franchise” quarterback.